Foreign aid can work wonders

Foreign aid can work wonders. It set South Korea and Taiwan on the path to riches, helped extinguish smallpox in the 1970s and has almost eliminated polio.

Aid can also burden weak bureaucracies in developing nations, distort markets, prop up dictators and help prolong civil wars.

A decade ago governments rich and poor set out to define good aid. They declared that aid should be for improving the lot of poor people [and] it should be coordinated.

Official development aid, which includes grants, loans, technical advice and debt forgiveness, is worth about $130 billion a year. The channels originating in Berlin, London, Paris, Tokyo and Washington are deep and fast-flowing; others are rivulets, though the Nordic countries are generous for their size.

More than two-fifths flows through multilateral outfits such as the World Bank, the UN and the Global Fund. Last year 9% was spent on refugees in donor countries, reflecting the surge of migrants to Europe.

[The Economist]

Foreign workers send home 3 times the amount of money spent on foreign aid

The amount of money worldwide that migrants and foreign workers send back home increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to a new analysis.

Technically known as ‘remittances,’ the total amount of these cash transfers grew from $296 billion dollars in 2007 to $445 billion in 2016 – triple what is spent by rich countries on foreign aid each year.

Roughly 1 billion people will either send or receive money, from abroad this year, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which sponsored the study and published the report Sending Money Home.

The upward trend in remittances worldwide represents a significant increase that has weathered a global financial crisis and increasing anti-immigrant policies in many wealthy countries. The money sent back home by foreign workers does a lot to reduce poverty globally, a fact not widely recognized by the public or policy makers.

Nearly half of the money sent home goes to people living in rural areas, according to the analysis. Families use the money to pay for food, health, education and to support businesses, which for the poorest communities typically are focused on farming.

World Bank head Jim Kim called remittances an important way to help end extreme poverty by 2030 because of their ability to ‘increase prosperity.’

[Humanosphere]

86% of Europeans believe that the EU should help any country worldwide affected by disasters

  • 9 of 10 Europeans think that it is important that the EU helps to coordinate the response to disasters in individual countries.
  • 81% say that coordinated EU action on disasters is more effective than actions by individual countries.
  • 86% believe that the EU should help any country worldwide affected by disasters.

[Eurobarometer]

The latest perk for tech workers … doing good

In the cutthroat technology industry where companies go to great lengths to attract and retain talent, employers have offered workers high salaries, company stock and unlimited vacation time. They’ve done free breakfasts, free lunches, free dinners and free booze. There’s kombucha on tap, ping pong and pool, nap rooms, yoga rooms and on-site gyms.

Now some tech firms eager to keep their employees engaged are turning to ways to have fun and do good.

“Millennials make up around 45% of the workforce, and they’d rather spend their money doing something cool and having an experience than buying or having material things,” said Jai Al-Attas, the 33-year-old founder of Loqules. “They’re a lot more socially aware, and they want to be part of companies or groups that give back to the community in some way.”

With Loqules, companies have the option of sharing the experience with people in need by partnering with a local nonprofit such as Safe Place for Youth, a homeless youth organization; A New Way of Life, which works with formerly incarcerated women; or the Salvation Army. Through these partnerships, companies often foot the bill so those in need can participate in workshops and experiences alongside employees.

This comes as little surprise to researchers and human resource experts, who in recent years have noticed a shift in how millennial employees want to be engaged and rewarded at work. As this demographic of workers continues to grow, “millennial values,” which Brookings describes as an emphasis on corporate social responsibility, a higher worth placed on experiences over material things, and community building, will come to shape the workplace.

“Years ago you never had a 25-year-old kid making $150,000,” said Karen Ross, chief executive of tech firm Sharp Decisions, who has seen her own employees increasingly express interest in doing more for the communities in which they operate. “Now they’re making good money. Nobody cares about free food or free beer. They’re more interested in making a difference.”

“People want to feel like they’ve had an impact,” Al-Attas said. “We’re not just saying, ‘Hey, we gave some money to a charity’ and then everyone pats themselves on the back. We get people from the charity into a room with employees so they can share stories and change their perspectives. That’s where this is going.”

[San Diego Union Tribune]

German Chancellor Merkel calls for greater investment in Africa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has underscored the importance of combating poverty in Africa as a way to stem the mass migrant flow to Europe.

Reducing poverty and conflict in Africa were the main topics raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week as she met with African leaders ahead of next month’s Group of 20 (G20) summit. The leaders of the African Union from Guinea, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana, Tunisia, Rwanda and other nations met in Berlin to discuss a so-called “compact with Africa.” The initiative seeks to team up African nations which have committed to economic reforms with private investors who would then bring jobs and businesses.

“Positive development in the world will not work unless all continents participate,” Merkel said in Berlin. “We need an initiative that does not talk about Africa, but with Africa.”

Germany’s Finance Ministry announced on Monday that it agreed partnerships with Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Ghana as part of a planned investment of up to 300 million euros ($335 million) to help African nations.

Underscoring the pressure African countries face, Merkel contrasted Germany’s average age of 43 with the average age in Niger and Mali of 15. “If we don’t give young people any prospects, if we don’t invest in education and qualifications, if we don’t strengthen the role of girls and young women, the development agenda won’t succeed,” she said.

Last year, Germany took in around 890,000 migrants, thousands of whom came from African countries including Eritrea, Ghana and Ethiopia.

[Allafrica]

 

200,000 latrines sold by microentrepreneurs in 18 months

In rural Bangladesh, about 40 million people live without access to adequate toilets.
200,000 latrines sold by microentrepreneurs in Bangladesh in just 18 months is quite an achievement after three years of laying the foundation: research, product design and development, and putting business-thinking to work.

The SaTo pan, prototyped by American Standard in the U.S. and then tested by iDE in Bangladesh, sparked a new evolution in affordable, hygienic latrines. This innovation was conceived by engaging with end-users—understanding why they did (or did not) use sanitation products and what they prefer. This upfront investment in research and design strengthened the viability of the final product in the marketplace.

It costs iDE and our donors $11 to empower a family to buy a latrine. Families who purchase a latrine are seeing $205 in health and work-related savings per year.

The iDE Bangladesh program encourages private sector service providers to produce high-quality products that respond to the sanitation needs and demands of rural Bangladeshis.

[Sanitation News]

Welcome to Refugee High

Sarah Quintenz is due in the front office for a new student enrollment.

14-year-old Mohammad Naser and his family fled Iraq, and have been in the United States for all of three weeks. A representative of the refugee resettlement agency Heartland Alliance accompanies them.

“Hi. How are you?” Quintenz asks. Mohammad smiles, bewildered. It only takes a few seconds to assess that Mohammad doesn’t speak any English.

If Sullivan High School on the North Side of Chicago had a motto, it would be “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Its immigrant population now numbers close to 300  –45 percent of the school’s 641 students–  and many are refugees new to this country.

This academic year alone, the Rogers Park school has welcomed a staggering 89 refugees–nearly three times as many as last year and far more than at any other high school in the city. The recent surge, fueled in part by an influx of Syrians, has turned the school into a global melting pot, with 38 countries and more than 35 languages represented.

The third most common language, after English and Spanish, spoken at Sullivan? Swahili.

How Sullivan got to this point is a fascinating story of a school that not long ago was struggling for survival. During what’s been called the worst refugee crisis ever, with nearly 50 million children across the globe fleeing violence or other threats, Sullivan has reinvented itself by addressing a critical question: How do you give these kids a second chance?                                                                                     [continued]

Refugee students in America

Ms. Quintenz at Sullivan High is seeing more and more older students. Some spent the last few years in a refugee camp and so have been out of school; others fled their countries without time to gather their documents.

No matter the reason, if they don’t have credits, the school must start such students as freshmen. “It sucks,” Quintenz says, “but I really don’t have any other choice.”

A Rohingya boy explains that as members of a persecuted Muslim minority, he and his family fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, then Malaysia, after his grandfather and uncle were killed. Another student outlines eight countries–Angola, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, among them–that her family has lived in since leaving Rwanda. One girl, who has been in the United States for only a few months, says that she misses the smell of jasmine in her native Syria but not the sound of bombs. Trauma is part of the cultural fabric in room 106.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network reports that as much as 75 percent of refugee youth experience some level of post-traumatic stress disorder.

That’s why the school had every ELL teacher go through two trauma trainings, one conducted by Lurie Children’s Hospital and the other by Sullivan’s former social worker, who also ran weekly discussion circles for students to share what they had been through.

For Quintenz, helping students heal comes down to trust: “Kids are only going to talk to you if you build those relationships and they feel comfortable with you.”

[Chicago Magazine]

An American family moves to war-torn Mosul – Part 1

The Eubank family has a guiding principle–if other families are forced to live in war zones, there should be no issue with theirs being on hand to help.  And so as Iraqi forces pushed into the last pockets of western Mosul still under Islamic State control, an American mom was home-schooling her three children in a room above a medic station deep inside the city.

Sahale, 16, and Suuzanne, 14, sat in a corner near their mother, Karen, working on their laptops and occasionally bursting into song. Peter, 11, lay on a camping mat on the floor doing math. They sleep in a house a short drive away, but spend their days at the medic station to assist and give supplies to fleeing Iraqis.

About a mile away at the front line, their father, David, who says he served for a decade in the U.S. military including in the Army’s Special Forces, evacuated families as they came under sniper fire from Islamic State militants.

It was just an average day for the Eubanks, who describe their work as a calling from God. The family has spent much of the past 20 years in the jungles of Burma, where David Eubank founded the Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian organization that provides emergency medical care, shelter and food supplies in the country’s long-running civil war. They traveled to Iraq two years ago, at first working alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces in the war against the Islamic State. The family has also worked in Sudan and made two trips to the Kurdish areas of Syria.                                                              [Continued]

An American family moves to war-torn Mosul – Part 2

The war in Mosul is more intense than anything this American family has experienced, Karen Eubank says. The eight-month battle has taken place in a densely populated city, home to more than a million people when the Iraqi operation began.

Families face a gantlet of risks. U.S.-led airstrikes and sometimes indiscriminate artillery and mortar fire by Iraqi forces bombard neighborhoods held by the Islamic State. Families that attempt to escape risk being targeted by militants’ sniper and machine-gun fire, with the increasingly desperate extremists mowing down hundreds of civilians in recent weeks.

“They’ve been shelled, shot at, they’ve grown up like this,” David Eubank said. “Our deal is that if there’s another family there, we can be there. Americans aren’t worth more than anyone else.”

His team of Free Burma Rangers–including medics from Burma’s minorities who have traveled from their own war to help in Iraq’s–prepared their equipment for an expected afternoon push by Iraqi forces.

The rest of the family usually stays a step back from the front line. “I don’t want my kids to die. I don’t take them purposefully to the fighting,” Eubank said. “We pray and think about every risk.”

The group is being hosted by Brig. Gen. Mustafa Sabah, a brigade commander with the Iraqi army’s 9th Armored Division.  Sabah said that he initially was surprised that Eubank brought his whole family with him. “I thought, ‘This is not the right place for children,’” he said. “But then when I got to know them well, I realized this is what makes them happy, and they really believe in what they are doing.”

Sabah said that by just being there, the family is doing enough “because they give positive energy to everyone around them,” but that along with the rangers, they have effectively become a logistics battalion.

[Washington Post]